updated 04:30 pm EST, Fri March 6, 2009
Rival iPhone stores loom
Several new online stores are threatening to challenge the current rigidity of the iPhone economy, according to the Wall Street Journal. Opening today is the Cydia Store, an extension of the software associated with browsing and downloading unofficial iPhone applications. While most apps available through Cydia have been free, some Cydia Store downloads will cost a fee, with the creator of the service reaping a commission similar to the one taken by Apple from official iPhone apps.
A second service in development, Rock Your iPhone, is planning to launch sales directed at people who have not already hacked their iPhone. Scheduled for an unspecified point in the future is a third option, which will sell pornographic games circumventing Apple's normal censorship of the material.
Apple is unlikely to tolerate the existence of the stores for long, as popular third-party alternatives would divert money away from App Store income. Content from third parties could also violate a number of the standards set for the iPhone, including not just subject matter but levels of security and code stability. Apple has in fact argued that the process of jailbreaking an iPhone is illegal under the DMCA, though the company may face stiff opposition from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is calling for a formal jailbreaking exemption. Unlocking a phone for other carriers is thought to have at least limited legality under the current DMCA.